An Open Letter from Howard Schultz, ceo of Starbucks Coffee Company | Starbucks Coffee Company

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Posted by Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman, president and chief executive officer

Dear Fellow Americans,

Few topics in America generate a more polarized and emotional debate than guns. In recent months, Starbucks stores and our partners (employees) who work in our stores have been thrust unwillingly into the middle of this debate. That’s why I am writing today with a respectful request that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas.

From the beginning, our vision at Starbucks has been to create a “third place” between home and work where people can come together to enjoy the peace and pleasure of coffee and community. Our values have always centered on building community rather than dividing people, and our stores exist to give every customer a safe and comfortable respite from the concerns of daily life.

We appreciate that there is a highly sensitive balance of rights and responsibilities surrounding America’s gun laws, and we recognize the deep passion for and against the “open carry” laws adopted by many states. (In the United States, “open carry” is the term used for openly carrying a firearm in public.) For years we have listened carefully to input from our customers, partners, community leaders and voices on both sides of this complicated, highly charged issue.

Our company’s longstanding approach to “open carry” has been to follow local laws: we permit it in states where allowed and we prohibit it in states where these laws don’t exist. We have chosen this approach because we believe our store partners should not be put in the uncomfortable position of requiring customers to disarm or leave our stores. We believe that gun policy should be addressed by government and law enforcement—not by Starbucks and our store partners.

Recently, however, we’ve seen the “open carry” debate become increasingly uncivil and, in some cases, even threatening. Pro-gun activists have used our stores as a political stage for media events misleadingly called “Starbucks Appreciation Days” that disingenuously portray Starbucks as a champion of “open carry.” To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores. Some anti-gun activists have also played a role in ratcheting up the rhetoric and friction, including soliciting and confronting our customers and partners.

For these reasons, today we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas—even in states where “open carry” is permitted—unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel.

I would like to clarify two points. First, this is a request and not an outright ban. Why? Because we want to give responsible gun owners the chance to respect our request—and also because enforcing a ban would potentially require our partners to confront armed customers, and that is not a role I am comfortable asking Starbucks partners to take on. Second, we know we cannot satisfy everyone. For those who oppose “open carry,” we believe the legislative and policy-making process is the proper arena for this debate, not our stores. For those who champion “open carry,” please respect that Starbucks stores are places where everyone should feel relaxed and comfortable. The presence of a weapon in our stores is unsettling and upsetting for many of our customers.

I am proud of our country and our heritage of civil discourse and debate. It is in this spirit that we make today’s request. Whatever your view, I encourage you to be responsible and respectful of each other as citizens and neighbors.

Sincerely,

Howard Schultz

via An Open Letter from Howard Schultz, ceo of Starbucks Coffee Company | Starbucks Coffee Company.

More on thoughts on Starbucks policies.

I made a post about Starbucks last night that has generated far more traffic than I anticipated and ruffled a few feathers. Here’s the deal. As I said before, it really should come as no surprise. Starbucks, up to this point, has been neither friend nor foe to the firearms community. Because they chose to openly state they were going to obey the law, they started taking heat from anti-gun folks who believed the company to be a largely liberal-leaning organization.

That was bad enough but, then a bunch of folks decided to poke the anti-gun folks in the eye by staging “Starbucks Appreciation Days.” That wouldn’t be a problem except that it unlike the Chick-fil-A appreciation days for their Christian stance, it actually ended up driving more customers away from Starbucks than it brought in. Counter protests and social media campaigns by the anti-gun folks did nothing to help matters.

In the end, the company’s operations were being impacted and they were loosing money when these events happened. It’s a publicly traded corporation that has to answer to its shareholders. The company is trying to take a stand to answer shareholder concerns and yet stay out of a very public debate. Unfortunately, any public stance they take is going to be a problem for one side or the other. Quite honestly, if they’d simply chosen to say nothing publicly, they would have been better off all the way around.

Read the CEO’s letter. And the memo to their employees. They have not banned guns but, if you actually look at what’s being addressed here, it’s the open carry issue. While not banning firearms outright but, they still ask that that firearms not be brought into the store and one can infer that the mean those carried openly as they have no way of knowing a gun is present if said gun is concealed. They go on to instruct their employees that people are still welcome even if carrying a firearm (again, the only way they’d know is if you did so openly) and that they should not confront anyone who is carrying a firearm nor should they ask that person to leave because they are carrying a firearm. While some will see it as a wishy-washy policy, in essence it says, “please don’t bring your political fights to our stores.”

Furthermore, Starbucks specifically instructs their employees to leave customers alone unless they are disruptive. The instructions go on to say that even if someone is carrying a firearm and a customer becomes offended by this, Starbucks has instructed their employees not to ask anyone to leave. Again, only if someone is being disruptive should they be asked to leave.  That’s a policy common to all establishments open to the public. Most would consider reasonable regardless of political stance. In fact, it’s a policy that could result in the anti-gun party being the one who is asked to leave.

As members of the firearms community, we certainly can choose to boycott Starbucks. But if I didn’t make this clear before, that’s a numbers game we will not currently win. Everyone has to make their own decision. Some folks will actually continue to patronize Starbucks while others take umbrage and take their money elsewhere. I’m not a Starbucks customer because I’ve never gotten into the coffee addiction so this policy has no impact on my life.  But as I’ve watched the Open Carry movement, I am constantly reminded of scenes of the 1960s and the height of the Civil Rights movement when similar actions by the Black Panthers led to California beginning it’s slippery fall into being the anti-gun state it is today.  All I can say is tread lightly. We have every right to swing our fists in anger but, that right generally stops at the next guys nose and he’s got every right to ask that we not swing our fists in his shop.

Starbucks to ask customers not to bring guns in stores | Military Times GearScout

Starbucks to ask customers not to bring guns in stores | Military Times GearScout.

starbucksnewpolicyThis “change” in policy honestly comes as no surprise.  Back in 2010, Starbucks originally did the right thing by their customers and the law by stating their stores would obey the laws of the local jurisdictions with respect to open carry. That was a bold statement for a publicly traded company considering the fact so many of their stores are independently owned franchises and it meant corporate was dictating policy to private business owners. Not every partner was happy with this policy but, the Starbucks brand is so big that few were going to just walk away from a cash cow.

Some (not all) in the Open Carry movement took this statement as “support” from Starbucks and began organizing open carry events at Starbucks stores. It was anything but support. It was simply a notice of compliance with the law and nothing more. Not every partner was OK with this and many of the folks in the stores were simply too kind to say “No.” The events were certainly peaceful but, in more than a few places, it also drove away business and that nothing changes corporate policy faster than a hit in the profit margin.

The issue snowballed for Starbucks. First it was anti-gun counter protests which are rarely productive but, soon enough it turned into and social media campaigns and boycotts organized by state wide Democratic parties as well as as the usual anti-gun groups. Starbucks business partners and share holders started making noises too and this left Starbucks in a bad spot. All you have to do is listen in on an investors’ conference call when numbers are announced at the end of a financial quarter. The issue doesn’t come up every quarter but, it has come up and it’s never good when investors are worried about the political stance of a publicly traded company.

So again, to me it was just a matter of time.  Sometimes, when you poke the bear, you suffer the consequences. While we should have the right to choose to carry openly, it is clear that by openly flaunting that right in the general public, some have unwittingly created hostile environments for people who might otherwise have at least been neutral if not supportive to their cause.  This policy change is the result. And while there are those who will take the attitude that this does not matter, public perception is everything and the firearms community needs every ally it can get. A string of recent political victories does not constitute a war that is won.  At the end of the day, Starbucks is not the first company to choose profit over political neutrality, and they won’t be the last.

– Gary

And the new anti-gun push begins…

091613_otr_timeline_640Before all the facts are in and the details of what really happened are known, predictably, the spin machine is already running. News outlets were quick to seize on yet another opportunity to vilify guns, especially the AR-15 (whether one was actually used or not) and semi-automatic pistols. The anti-gun push has already begun.  Never mind the fact this happened in a city where gun ownership was nearly completely outlawed until 2008 and even since then has been largely impractical. So much so, Emily Miller developed an entire news column, blog, and book on the process of acquiring a firearm in the District. But the reality is, gun control failed here, miserably. It only served to create a target/victim rich environment that ultimately claimed the lives of twelve people and injured at least a dozen others.

mediaguidetofirearmsThis morning, it is clear that the media has no clue what happened. In the firearms community, we all know that few in the media know a shotgun from a rifle and fewer still know an M-16 from an AK-47.  let’s not get into the differences between an M-16 and Ar-15 but, that too is a well known point of confusion and ignorance.  Still, we’ve already seen reports that an AR-15 was involved as well as a Glock.  It’s hell to be black…typically any semi-automatic handgun that is black in color, is a Glock.  Actually, that’s racist and we know “journalists” aren’t racists. The reality is, if it’s a handgun or looks like a handgun…It’s a Glock to the average journalist. Of course, they were also quick to say the guns were legally acquired but, they’ve had to retract/bury that because later, the report was video indicating this all started with a shotgun and that all other firearms taken from dead/injured first-responders. The latest news is that an AR-15 may not have been involved at all. The reality is, we don’t know. None of us outside the actual investigation really knows what happened and it may be weeks or months before we have all the details.

The fact we don’t know will not stop the anti-gun crowd from throwing the first brick and predictably, those of us on the other side of the issue will have to bust open our own bag of rocks. But I submit that a renewed debate serves no purpose other than a political exercise for those interested in playing those games.  The harsh reality is, all it takes is a typical garbage bag to kill and disarm your average sentry or police officer if he’s not expecting it. From there, it would be easy enough to acquire new weapons at the scene.  A goal oriented person is going to do damage no matter what legislation we pass so it would seem then there is little to be accomplished by additional gun control measures unless we’re going to take to disarming everyone, especially, the government and its agents, solely for the purpose of eliminating their weapons as a potential hazard. After all, we certainly don’t want NYPD showing up to save the day…They’ve shot at least 15 innocent bystanders in the 12 months in efforts to subdue a grand total of 3 suspects. Given those odds, I’ll take my chances with the bad guys having guns.

And finally, in the days ahead, we’ll go from interviews with friends and family who are predictably “shocked” and “can’t believe he [the shooter] was capable of such violence…” to finding out the shooter had a wide range of mental health issues that may or may not have been treated but, were still somehow documented. Failing mental health is perhaps the single most common thread among all mass murders and has long been a major problem in this country. Sandy Hook, Aurora, Tuscon, Virginia Tech, the list goes on. Not to mention that fully half or more of all firearm related fatalities are suicides, another symptom of mental illness.  But like petulant children, liberals and the media outlets they control, will insist on vilifying the tool if ever there is a gun involved.

-Gary

Confirmed: George Zimmerman Detained By Police After Wife Said He Threatened Her Family With a Gun, Assaulted Her Father

Confirmed: George Zimmerman Detained By Police After Wife Said He Threatened Her Family With a Gun, Assaulted Her Father | TheBlaze.com.

Really, George? I know what a bunch of you are thinking.  Innocent until proven guilty! And the man was acquitted but, damn. You’d think you’d go out of your way to keep your nose clean and avoid any and all trouble or controversy after the experience Zimmerman had over the last 18 months.

An I again recognize it may not be a popular position but, I for one have never felt comfortable with the “hero” status this milk toast butterball has enjoyed in many conservative social circles. There are those of us who do not hold him blameless in the shooting that turned into a national circus but, in the interest of justice, we couldn’t see hanging a man when the evidence did not support a murder conviction or even voluntary manslaughter.

None of that meant he wasn’t a bonehead who willingly walked into a situation that got out of hand faster than he thought possible. None of that means he didn’t make decisions that put him in a position where he had to defend himself. May be it’s not fair or overly harsh but, this man’s decision making skills really do seem to be less than optimal.

-Gary